BY DEAN HOCKNEY
Howard County may have only sent five competitors to the IHSAA Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University, but they made the most of it by winning four medals – including a pair of state championships.
On June 1 during the Girls State Finals, Kokomo sophomore Tionna Brown lived up to her hyped reputation by clocking a 24.14 in the preliminary race of the 200-meter dash. She then thrilled the stadium by running a school-record 23.86 to win the first-ever girls track and field state championship for the Lady Wildkats. She defeated No. 1-seed Cami Christopher of Hamilton Southeastern, who ran a 24.19. Third place went to Warren Central’s Mikeis Covington (24.24).
Earlier in the evening, Brown tied her own school-record with an 11.71 in the preliminaries of the 100-meter dash to earn the No. 1 seed. In the finals, Semira Killebrew of Brebeuf Jesuit edged Brown 11.55 to 11.75 for first-place, giving Brown a state runner-up finish. The finishes were Brown’s third and fourth state finals medals – as a freshman she finished fourth in the 200 and fifth in the 100. Brown’s 18 state finals points put Kokomo in 11th place overall in the team standings. Hamilton Southeastern won the team title with 62 points, followed by Brebeuf (44), Warren Central (40), Carmel (38) and Perry Meridian (32).
The next evening at the Boys State Finals, Western senior Tyler Gilbert struggled during the opening round of the discus. But in the finals, on the final throw of his high school career, he launched the discus 177-3 to pass North Central’s Ethan Alyea’s effort of 176-9 to capture his second consecutive state championship – a first for the Panthers program.
Northwestern sophomore Tayson Parker – in his first year of competition – had a sensational day in the long jump. In his first state finals, Parker jumped 22-9.75 to claim a fifth-place medal after entering the finals seeded No. 4. Nick Ryan of Crown Point won the state title with a jump of 23-5.5.
The Kokomo Wildkats sent a pair of runners to the state finals. Junior Steven Edwards finished 12th in the 100-meter dash in a time of 11.07, missing the finals by .07 seconds. In the 300-meter hurdles, sophomore Quincy Armstrong earned a 10th place finish with a time of 39.10 – he missed the finals by .08 seconds.
Avon won the boys team state title with a score of 66, followed by North Central (47), Hamilton Southeastern (44), Fort Wayne Northrop (36) and Pike (36). Western’s 10 points were good for a 22nd place finish.